Wednesday, September 13, 2006

D. I. Study

Most of our focus is on health insurance and primarily individual coverage. Very little is said about disability mostly because it is an "oh by the way" topic. Very few agents lead with a disability insurance question and even fewer clients ask about the coverage.

A recent Harris survey reveals some interesting facts.

-- Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of working adults place either their homes, savings/investments or car/boat/vehicle as most valuable assets, as opposed to income from work.

Reality check: The average salary of a white collar professional is $48,000, meaning a 30-year-old would earn nearly $1.7 million by retirement age. By contrast, the average price of a U.S. home is $264,000.

-- More working adults (42 percent) would rely on savings to make ends meet than on any other resource through an extended disabling illness or injury.

Reality check: The average American family maintains just $3,800 in savings. In fact, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported that Americans actually spent more than they earned in 2005 - something that hasn't happened since the Great Depression.

-- The overwhelming majority of workers (97 percent) believe some level of disability income replacement is necessary. Ironically, just over a third (37 percent) has the coverage.

Reality check: Disability insurance is a very affordable employee benefit. For every dollar an employer spends on benefits and compensation, an average of 6.7 percent supports health insurance, 0.2 percent supports life insurance, 0.2 percent supports short-term disability and 0.1 percent supports long-term disability.

-- Nearly half of U.S. adult workers (47 percent) thought income replacement coverage for one year or less was adequate.

Reality check: Industry experience shows that the odds are as high as 1 in 3 of missing at least three months' pay due to injury or illness. Once an individual has been disabled for 90 days, the average length of disability is two years.

-- Of those surveyed who carry disability insurance, nearly two in five (37 percent) did not understand that this benefit would replace a portion of income and help pay for monthly expenses.

Reality check: Disability insurance can provide a level of income replacement of 50 percent to 100 percent.

Bob Taylor, executive director of a new disability industry organization, the Council for Disability Awareness, sees the lack of awareness about the growing potential of becoming disabled as a real issue for many workers and their families. "The likelihood of becoming disabled is on the rise for working Americans while the financial consequences are growing more severe," Taylor said. "Most working folks either don't realize or grossly underestimate how vulnerable they may be."
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